July 13, 2020
Welcome to the latest issue of Conservation Pulse, featuring our most recent conservation successes from around the world.
This issue leads with calls for action in the aftermath of the COVID-19 health crisis. The pandemic has had a tragic impact on so many lives but some good can come out of it if we grasp the opportunity to better safeguard human well-being and create a more sustainable relationship with the natural world. The global ocean is a case in point, an environment that provides huge benefits to billions of people but is also facing many serious threats. Last month, John Tanzer, who leads our global work in this area, called for action to tackle the ocean crisis as people around the world came together to celebrate World Oceans Day. And, in this issue, we’ve featured a number of examples of the positive steps being taken to safeguard the ocean – from action on plastics pollution to new measures to protect sharks and rays.
June 29, 2020
Scientists have agreed that COVID-19, like HIV, Ebola, SARS and MERS before it, is a zoonotic disease – a virus that has jumped from animals to humans.
To help curb future pandemics, the trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife must be stopped. And we must also tackle the deforestation and environmental degradation that leads to risky interactions between humans and wildlife. Across social platforms and media outlets, our calls for urgent action by world leaders are being highlighted – from helping vulnerable communities affected by the current crisis to taking steps to reduce the risk of future pandemics, including working for a green and just recovery that sets people and planet on a sustainable path – and we are asking people around the world to support this. Read our report, which explains the links between the outbreak of zoonotic diseases and humanity’s broken relationship with nature.
June 28, 2020
The pangolin is the only mammal in the world to have large scales covering its body – a protection from many predators but not from the rampant illegal trade that threatens the future of all eight pangolin species.
An estimated 195,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019, for their meat and scales – a trade that’s larger than for any other mammal. So we welcome the Chinese government’s decision to increase protection for this solitary insect eater, which, when undisturbed, makes its home in tree hollows or burrows. China’s decision to upgrade the protection status of pangolins from second to first class – that’s the same level as the giant panda – should now mean stricter enforcement of wildlife laws and penalties for this harmful illegal trade. However, we are concerned about a number of potential loopholes that may allow their trade to continue in China, as well as the ongoing threats of over-hunting and habitat destruction. Our work to challenge the unsustainable trade in pangolin and many other species therefore continues – both to safeguard their future and our own. After all, people everywhere rely on a healthy natural world for their well-being and survival.
June 27, 2020
An estimated 8 million tonnes – the weight of almost 800 Eiffel Towers – of plastic waste enter the ocean every year.
While you have probably heard of the dreadful effects on wildlife, such as dolphins entangled in abandoned fishing nets, you may be less familiar with how this affects people – from the impacts on fisheries to the ingestion of plastics through food, air and water. We have been calling for a global agreement to tackle this issue and so are delighted that almost 50 countries have joined together through their UN representatives to form the Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution. We are a founding member of this critical initiative and are calling on governments around the world to join and take action. You too can make our ocean healthier by signing the petition that’s already been backed by 1.7 million people. The more of us who make our voice heard, the more pressure there is on governments to act.
June 26, 2020
The “blue economy” is all the economic sectors, ranging from food production to energy and tourism, with a link to the ocean.
It’s worth an estimated US$24 trillion, and people are increasingly turning to the ocean for new opportunities and resources. The problem is that unsustainable activities are harming the natural environment that provides the foundations for all these economic benefits. That’s why in 2018 WWF and our partners came up with Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles that provide a framework for investment and development decisions. We are delighted that the Asian Development Bank, which last year committed US$5 billion to sustainable marine investment in the Pacific, has decided to adopt these principles. But our efforts continue to ensure they are adopted by others involved in development finance – helping to restore ocean health while supporting sustainable economic development.
June 25, 2020
Every year, an estimated 100 million sharks and rays are taken from the seas – an unsustainable level of fishing and bycatch that has resulted in a drastic decline in global populations, with 30 per cent of species now threatened with extinction.
WWF is calling for strong action by countries around the world, and is delighted to see the lead taken by the government of Ecuador. Following a recent record seizure of 26 tonnes of shark fin illegally exported from Ecuador to Hong Kong, it announced new conservation measures to better protect sharks and rays. Supported by WWF, the government announced an export ban on products coming from five shark species, including three of the most endangered shark species in the world: the oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead and great hammerhead. Ecuador has also committed to act as a regional shark champion in the eastern Pacific, as well as to introduce an innovative, automated traceability system to stop illegal products from entering the market.
June 24, 2020
After decades of protest by communities, local government, WWF and other environmental organizations, the Spanish Supreme Court has stopped the destructive Biscarrués dam in the Pyrenees.
The construction of the dam would have resulted in severe environmental impacts by destroying one of the last free flowing sections of the Gallego river. Fragmenting rivers is extremely harmful to both people and nature – ranging from blocking the migration of fish to trapping sediment needed to protect deltas from rising seas – and WWF is working around the world to restore freely-flowing rivers. The decision also sets an important legal precedent for the application of the Water Framework Directive – which commits all EU countries to ensure their rivers, lakes and wetlands are in good shape by 2027. More welcome news has come with the launch of the new EU biodiversity strategy. This is a potential game changer for Europe’s freshwater environments, with the most eye-catching target being the restoration of at least 25,000km of rivers by removing barriers and re-establishing floodplains and wetlands.